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In the final, played in front of 63.000 spectators at Rio’s Maracana Stadium, Brazil lined up against Germany, whose senior team had inflicted the trauma of a 7-1 defeat in the semi-final of the FIFA World Cup two years earlier. Neymar had not played in that game. Now though he had centre stage and he had found his scoring feet. The Brazil captain scored the opening goal with another brilliant free-kick, only to see the Germans equalise early in the second half.
Eventually the final went to extra time and then a penalty shoot-out. With each team having taken and scored their first four penalties, and Nils Petersen missing Germany’s fifth, Neymar stepped up to take the most important kick of his life. Seemingly oblivious to the pressure, he coolly placed the ball into the back of the net, before sinking to his knees. Neymar had earned the right to claim Olympic greatness.
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